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Kazakh-language Wikipedia tops 100,000 articles, plans 200,000 by yearend

9 November 2011 15:12 199
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ASTANA. November 9. KAZINFORM 'Wikipedia - the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit' - that was the concept by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger, the founders of the Wikipedia. It offers access to every kind of information for the ever growing Internet community. And now Kazakhstan is expanding its Wikipedia presence and boosting other Kazakh language resources on the Internet.

The Wikipedia is written in 282 languages, has around 20 million articles and more than  10 years of history, not too mention 90,000 regularly active contributors. Over 18.5% of the free web-based encyclopaedia is in English. The other two languages that top one million mark are German and French. The rest of the languages are not represented so greatly in the most well-known web-based encyclopedia, the Kazakh MFA's press service informs.

The growth of Kazakhstan's Internet community increased the demand for information resources in Kazakh. When Wikipedia began, the demand for Kazakh-language resources was very low: the page in Kazakh ranked 125th. That's when a movement spearheaded by the Wikibilim Foundation was launched in Kazakhstan to promote and expand Wikipedia's Kazakh language content. The core targets of the project were to popularise the Kazakh language and to provide Kazakh-speaking people with information in their native language.

The movement attracted the attention of the Samruk-Kazyna National Welfare Fund which approved solid financial backing for it. Organisational support was also provided by the Ministry of Communications and Information and the KazContent Company.

When the project was launched in June 2011, the Wikibilim team set an ambitious task of raising the number of Kazakh-language entries on Wikipedia to 200,000 by the end of this year. Since then the number of articles written in Kazakh increased 10 times, and has recently reached 100,000. Initially consisting of only four members, the team today has 231 active participants. Thanks to this gigantic development step, the Kazakh language climbed up from the 125th to the 38th place and became one of the 40 language sections of Wikipedia that have more than 100,000 articles.

This result was named the best achievement of the year among language sections of the encyclopedia at  the Wikimania annual conference in Haifa, Israel. Kazakhstan's Wikibilim Foundation was named the Global Wikipedian-2011 and won a grant of Jimmy Wales, a co-founder of Wikipedia.

Jimmy Wales praised what he called the impressive achievements of the Kazakh-language Wikipedia in a short period of time. Wales also offered to hold a special conference in Kazakhstan with the aim of sharing the country's experience with other Central Asian nations. He expressed his personal desire to visit Kazakhstan.

"We are about to launch an online library of Kazakhstan and set up a free educational video portal. These projects are non-commercial and are in need of funding. We are happy that the government supports us in this," Rauan Kenzhekhanuly, founder of the Wikibilim Foundation, said at a press conference in Almaty on November 2.

Kenzhekhanuly also spoke about foundation's new goal to increase the number of articles in Kazakh in the free web-based encyclopedia up to 200,000 by December 2011, the symbolic date for the country as it will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its independence. He is confident the goal is achievable taking into account the support rendered and the efforts exerted.

As the academic year began in September, the number of Wikipedia users in the Kazakh language continued to increase. Most of the new participants are school and university students, research associates and activists of the Internet community.

"If these interactive users can find answers to their requests in Kazakh and are satisfied with the content of the texts, then we have reached our goal of implementing the Kazakh Wikipedia and of building the Kazakh-language community on the Internet," Rauan Kenzhekhanuly said in an earlier interview with The Astana Times newspaper.

With the aim of inspiring Internet users to contribute more articles to the Kazakh Wikipedia, a contest named "Wiki-baige" (baige means contest in Kazakh) was launched. Its main goal is to introduce 100 articles that will correspond to the Wikipedia format. The first 100 authors will be awarded laptops, and 40 best authors among them will be awarded new smart phones.

The developers of Kazakh Wikipedia hope that it will become a major online encyclopaedic resource providing accurate information in Kazakh that will continue to raise the awareness of Internet users and the status of the Kazakh language

 


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